The Cuban Missile Crisis: Was President Kennedy the Saviour of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

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The Cuban Missile Crisis:

Was President Kennedy the Saviour of

the Cuban Missile Crisis?

        The Cold War started in 1917 and it was fought without violence because retaliation would involve nuclear weapons from both countries and it'll be M.A.D. However on Sunday 14th October, 1962, this all changed. In 1962, the Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.S missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev concieved the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. An American U-2 spy plane was flown over Cuba and it spotted the nuclear missile basis placed there by Khruschev. America was furious. What made it worst was that this nuclear missile basis was just 90 miles off the coast from Florida, facing America.Source B2 shows the strike range of the Soviet missiles installed on Cuba. The closest the world has come to nuclear war was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. U.S. armed forces were at their highest state of readiness. Soviet field commanders in Cuba were authorized to use tactical nuclear weapons if invaded by the U.S. The fate of millions literally hinged upon the ability of two men, President John F. Kennedy  and Premier Nikita Khrushchev to reach a compromise.

        From 1952 until 1958 Cuba was under the rule of a corrupt dictator, Fulgencio Batista who had the had the support of America bacause there were American companies that had business interests on the island. Most of Cuba was run by American business men and by 1958 the American business men and the mafia had control of Cuba. The reason this happened was because as the business men got richer, the Cubans got poorer. In the late 1950's his regime began to become increasingly corrupt and brutal so he bacame an embarrasement to the United States of America. Simultaneously, a guerilla movement was gaining strength in the mountains of Cuba under the orders of Fidel Castro. America knew they were there but saw them as freedom fighters, not communists. On New Years Eve, 1958, a revoloution led by Castro took place. They overthrew Batista and Castro replaced him as leader. Castro wished to free Cuba from foreign influence and restore national pride. Castro also blamed America for Cuba's economic misery and soon took steps to establish closer ties with Moscow and the Soviet regime. Source A3 discusses the problems facing Cuba after years of rule by Batista and the plans Castro had to solve them.

        Castro nationalised and took over American holdings on Cuba, He drove the American business men out of Cuba, leaving the businesses and factories to Cuba. All of this aroused anger from America. As a result they refused to trade sugar with the Cuban government. Cuba's greatest trade was sugar and earned Cuba alot of money so because America weren't trading any sugar many Cubans began to lose their jobs. In 1961, Kennedy decided to do something about the situation in Cuba. He backed up a group of anti-communist Cubans to launch an attack on the south coast of Cuba in a place called the Bay of Pigs. The excuse that America used for attacking Cuba was because it posed an economic, political and military threat. This was not true. The real reason was that America were worried that Cuba would turn communist. The Americans thought that it'll be easy to invade Cuba. 1511 Cuban exiles who had fled to the USA after the fall of Batista marched into Cuba and were met by 20,000 Cuban troops from Castro's forces who were armed with tanks and war weapons. The exiles were outnumbered, badly trained and poorly equiped so it was of no surprise that within days the Cubans had either captured, killed or driven out these exiles. It turned out to be a disaster for the U.S. - they had been humiliated and the support for Castro began to increase. Cuba and America were not on good terms. Cuba was now very vulnerable because no-one was buying their sugar and everyone was becoming unemployed. Cuba wanted safety. Khrushchev agreed to buy all Cuban sugar and also agreed to protect Cuba by placing nuclear weapons on Cuba facing the United States of America. Castro has decided to turn communist, like Khrushchev. America had been worried about the threat of communism spreading from Asia. Now they have an even bigger threat right in their back yard. Source A4 shows how unaware the Americans really were.

        Now you can see why America were so worried. American U-2 spy planes constantly saw that Cuba were continuously adding more weapons with help from the Soviets, You can see this in Source B1. Officials worked out, from the photos of the spy planes, that 80 million people would be dead in America within 17 minutes if Cuba used these weapons against America. Source B2 shows the strike range of the Soviet missiles on Cuba. What was more worrying was Khrushchev, when confronted, said that there were no weapons on the country. The Soviet decision to deploy missiles in Cuba can be broken down into two categories 1) Soviet insecurity, and 2) the fear of losing Cuba in an invasion.

Soviet Insecurity

        During his presidential campaign, Kennedy had repeatedly spoken of a missile gap between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Despite being briefed by the Pentagon that the U.S. had more missiles than the Soviets, Kennedy maintained his claim that the U.S. had less. After the 1960 election, Khrushchev  began to test the new president. In the summer of 1961 Khrushchev applied pressure to Berlin and eventually built a wall surrounding West Berlin. In response, the Kennedy Administration felt it necessary to reveal to Khrushchev that there was in fact no missile gap. Khrushchev had always known the U.S. had more missiles but now he knew that the Americans knew. Khrushchev also knew that Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union, not just from America but from Turkey too. Source C3 shows the strike range of U.S. missiles intalled in Turkey.

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Fear of Invasion from Cuba

        Since he had come to power in 1959, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro  was aware of several U.S. attempts to oust him. First, was the failed Bay of Pigs  invasion by CIA-backed Cuban exiles in 1961. Second, was a U.S. military exercise in 1962. The Armed Forces conducted a mock invasion of a Caribbean island to overthrow a fictitious dictator whose name, Ortsac, was Castro spelt backwards. Additionally, the U.S. was drafting a plan to invade Cuba (Operation Mongoose). The mock invasion and invasion plan were devised to keep Castro nervous. Finally, the CIA had also ...

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